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Neera Chopra: I Protected My Daughter as Every Parent Should

January 22, 2013

Miss-India-World-Pooja-Chopra In 2009 Pooja Chopra was crowned “Miss India World.” On receiving her title she said, “Today, as I stand here a Miss India, I don’t even know if my father knows that it is me, his daughter, who has set out to conquer the world, a crown on my head.”

The truth is, that Pooja Chopra could have been one of the millions of little girls who are killed after birth in India, simply because they were born as girls! She lived because her mother Neera Chopra refused to give in to the pressure to kill her, and chose instead to endure tremendous hardship to protect and raise her daughters.

Most assume, it is poverty and illiteracy that compels parents in India to kill their girl babies.  But that is a fallacy! In fact the only strata in India where the gender ratio is normal is in the poorest 20%. The more wealth a family has the more likely they are to get rid of girls! [click here for more on this] Pooja Chopra could have been one such girl — born into a well-off, educated, middle class family in India.

When Pooja was 20 days old, her father gave her mother a choice:either kill the child or leave the marriage! One day, when her father tried to suffocate her by putting a pillow on her face, her mother finally decided to leave.

Pooja’s mother, Neera talks about her life and her decision to save her child, and the struggle to raise her two girls.  She says, “My husband was well-placed, but the marriage had begun to sink almost as soon as it began. Like most women do, I tried to work against all the odds . My in-laws insisted everything would be alright if I had a son. My first child was a daughter, and that didn’t do me any good… but I couldn’t walk out. I had lost my father, my brother was in a not-so-senior position… I didn’t want to be a burden on my family and continued to live in my marital home in Kolkata.”

Like most Indian women, Neera Chopra tried to be complacent and subservient to her husband and in-laws, and also tolerated abuse and violence in the hope that it would please them and help keep her marriage going.

She explains, “I looked after my mother-inlaw, who was suffering from cancer, and while bathing her, I would tell myself she would bless me and put things right.  I don’t know how I tolerated it all. The least a man can do, if he must philander, is to not flaunt his women in his wife’s face. Then began the manhandling [violence]. I still wanted my marriage to survive. I was a pure vegetarian and learnt to cook non-vegetarian delicacies thinking it would please him. Then, I was pregnant again. When Pooja was eight months in my womb, my husband brought a girl to the house and announced he would marry her. I thought of killing myself. I hung on the slight hope that if the baby was a boy, my marriage could be saved.

However, Neera gave birth to second girl, Pooja.  She talks about how her husband and family treated her before they gave her the final ultimatum to either kill Pooja or leave their family.

She says, “When Pooja was born a girl, for three days, nobody came to the hospital. There was someone on the opposite bed, who was kind enough to give me baby clothes for Pooja to wear. When Pooja was 20 days old, I had to make a choice. I left the house with my girls — Pooja and Shubra, who was seven then. I haven’t seen my husband since. I promised myself, even if we had just one roti, we would share it, but together.”

But it wasn’t easy for Neera to raise her two daughters alone.  Survival was a fight for all them, even after she left her marriage.  How did they manage? 

Neera says, “Truth be told, I would put a chatai (mat) on the floor, leave two glasses of milk and some food, and bolt the door from outside before going to work [at night at the Taj Colaba]. I would leave the key with the neighbours and tell the kids to shout out to them when it was time to leave for school…I used to struggle for shoes, socks, uniforms… Pooja would walk four bus stops down to school…[and] too little to cross the road, she would ask a passerby to help her. I had to save the bus money to be able to put some milk in their bodies.”

Neera says her daughters were also her support and gave her moral courage to go on.  “Through the years, Shubhra has been my anchor and Pooja, the rock. Pooja’s tiny hands have wiped away my tears when I broke down. She has stood up for me, when I couldn’t speak for myself. Academically brilliant, she participated in all extra-curricular activities. When she needed high heels to model in, she did odd shows and bought them for herself.”

Interestingly, Pooja believes that her success in the modeling and beauty industry, her crowing as ‘Miss India’ is somehow a payback to her mother for allowing her to live, and believes her success to be her mother’s victory.  But her mother seems to think that she didn’t do anything extraordinary.  She did what any parent should for their child!

Pooja Chopra believes her mother is the true hero and winner in her life.  She says, All the girls in the [Miss India] pageant worked hard, but my edge was my mother’s sacrifice, her karma. Today, when people call to congratulate me, it’s not me they pay tribute to, but to her life and her struggle. She’s the true Woman of Substance. She is my light, my mentor, my driving force.”

Pooja says, “When my mum walked out on my dad, she said to him, ‘One day this girl will make me proud’. All my life I’ve wanted my mum to be proud of the decision that she chose me.”

However Neera sees it differently.  She says, “Today, I’ve no regrets…I continue to finish my day job and come home and take tuition, as I have done for all these years. I also do all my household chores myself… As a mother, I’ve done nothing great.”

Please Note:  We had also included a poll with Pooja’s story.  The question we posed to the public was:  Should wealthy and glamorous women like Pooja be used as a role model to convince people in India to not kill their daughters?

The two options people had to choose from were:

  1. NO – , because the message India needs to hear is no parent has the right to kill their child, regardless of whether a child becomes successful or not! If they can raise a son, there is no reason why they can’t raise a daughter!
  2. YES  -- , because Indians see their children as economic investments! So we need to give Indian parents economic incentive to not kill their girl children, by using successful, famous, wealthy women as role models.
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115 Comments leave one →
  1. Padmanabhan Jaikumar permalink
    February 7, 2013 6:22 pm

    Problem in India is lack of facilities in most of rural areas though there is no dearth of money wasted on it but the corruption eat it away and the development that should have come is lacking and in India the monitoring system is very bad.Every minister sitting in Delhi tries to judge the expenditure and account without actually see the real progress in the field.Pathetic situation

  2. February 7, 2013 7:45 pm

    I tried to tweet this very touching story but the page will not allow me to send it out for others to read. Can you please check on this?

  3. Pat permalink
    February 7, 2013 11:08 pm

    I think neither option is the best strategy. Girls require dowries and don’t continue the family so it’s not the same to raise a boy as a girl. Two things to do: 1) campaign to acknowledge that the sex of the baby is the father’s doing, The mother’s DNA does not contribute to sex determination. At least this message should target educated classes, maybe public messaging, and in school curricula. 2) what can be done to stop dowries?….

    • Tina permalink
      February 16, 2013 9:39 am

      Even if you tried to educate the father’s that it is their DNA that determines whether it’s a boy or girl does not matter to them, it’s a matter of getting rid of the baby girl so they don’t have to feed and cloth that child, while waiting for a boy to be born! Women have NO rights in India! I know many American Women that have married Indian men, and they are raised to believe men are superior. Equal rights for Women I believe is where the education needs to start!!!!

    • February 16, 2013 11:52 am

      But Tina take for e.g. the lynching of black people in the U.S. before the civil rights movement. What stopped the killing was the implementation of laws by civil right workers. If we sat around and tried to educate people that they don’t have the right to kill people because of race, who would we be kidding? Ourselves?

  4. sue nellis permalink
    February 7, 2013 11:12 pm

    Girl children will be the mothers and educators of the future.

  5. ds sheriff permalink
    February 7, 2013 11:42 pm

    A child girl or a boy is a gift of God. There are millions of parents who do not have children want children. It is not the society – it is the girl itself to be cautioned. The mother who most of the time rears the child without her knowledge tries to give more importance to the male child. She makes the girld child work more, eat less and then study. Male child gets the preference from the mother. A mother is a lady, a girl. The courage to fight for the girl child to survice must start from the mother. She must decide before becoming a mother she could fight to keep the child for herself – whether she can take care of the girl child, whether she has the courage, mind set to take care of the girl child she is going to give birth to. Then if she is strong she could easily mould het husband’s mind to come to terms with the fact- a child is a child whether male or female.

    • Ellie permalink
      February 9, 2013 3:26 am

      Do you think in these circumstances the mother has any rights to decide? The message I’m receiving from the media is that women in general are considered subordinate. Therefore, as a woman in India, how can you decide whether to have children or not?? I agree with your philosophy, and that Indian women unfortunately have no choice but to brace themselves for terrible decisions in their lives according their customs and circumstances. It is true that they must be strong in order to ensure that both they and their daughters survive, but to imply that male favoritism due to cultural pressure is aiding female genicide is somewhat flippant. What are your suggestions on “how-to-easily-mould-the-husbands-mind” and can we find it in WikiHow? I’m sure the wealthier Indian women won’t want to miss out.

  6. February 7, 2013 11:46 pm

    I wanted to answer your poll question, but I don’t agree with either of the answers. I do think that she is a wonderful role model — and her mother, even more so — but I would not agree with it for the reason you state. So, yes, but not just because she is an “economic incentive.” The article clearly states that wealth has little to do with this issue.

    • susan coleman permalink
      February 8, 2013 3:59 pm

      Im with you on that, i voted yes, but didnt like the way the question was put. killing any child is wrong whatever way you look at it.

    • April 4, 2013 2:18 am

      Look, I married a muslim had a boy baby, managed to leave that country with my boy baby dressed in PINK.(nobody minded a girl leaving a muslim country, but a boy? Oh! NO!) My passport was checked as I left with the baby, and just as they were coming to the page that stated “Boy baby”, the baby started screaming. (Yes, I pinched him), the passport was snapped shut and handed to me, (men cannot tolerate a screaming babe) and I was allowed to board the plane for UK. Marsalah! Later, I travelled to US,with my then three year old son; married a brilliant doctor, and when our baby was born and was a GIRL my well educated, brilliant doctor husband burst into tears. As she grew it became apparant that she was billiant and funny and amusing and absolutely loveable, tactful, kind and so on. He warmed up somewhat. She did really well in College, and is well known as an actress, on TV, movies and commercials. But her father would not permit her to take acting in University. I divorced her father after 30 years, and I live in a writers’ and artists’ town, and I am quite happy doing my ‘thing’. Men like to live through their sons, altho’ they can often be jealous of a successful son . . . oh! poor men! They are so fragile. It has nothing to do with money or even education, a boy a son represents HIM the father! But look at the Scandinavians, they revere their women . . . the Vikings (who were Scandinavians) also took women on board with them, and the Vikings gave beautiful looted gifts to their wives, handmade silver brooches, pendants, such rare gifts in those days. Women are equal to men in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. . .and so they were with the Vikings of olde!!! Men fear that their daughters will get pregnant before they are married off and therefore represent a great burden to their families, whether they are Western or Eastern. We women are the ones who give birth to the next generation, and therefore have to be controlled in many different ways, certainly different to sons . . .
      The other day I saw a peasant about to kill a puppy, “why I asked” . . . “OH, it is a girl, and in a few months she will go on heat and have pups,” better to kill her now before that happens.
      Can’t have all these stray dogs around.” “I took the puppy, when older, she was spayed.”
      Then she was stolen from me. Get the piicture, even with animals . . .

    • April 4, 2013 7:38 pm

      Thanks for sharing Cynthia. People often don’t realize how deeply misogyny is engrained into the social mind-set.

  7. Deborah Leow permalink
    February 7, 2013 11:49 pm

    Courageous! In the face of Adversity. More Females in India.

  8. February 7, 2013 11:55 pm

    tried to tweet it not allow me

  9. gopaul angappan permalink
    February 7, 2013 11:56 pm

    Pooja chopra is a true inspiration and great motivation.

  10. February 8, 2013 12:10 am

    I think the ways to improve the lot for India’s women are many, “middle class” role models are great but the message that girls and boys are of equal worth needs to be sent loud and clear, those in the “higher” echelons of society, women and men have a duty to send positive signals that women’s futures can be as equal to men’s, are as valid as men’s and that everyone has something good to contribute. Being born a girl should never, ever be held against a baby, child or adult.
    Empowered women should be congratulated on their leadership, examples from small and poor communities should be held in high regard and publicised too. Neera, Pooja’s mother wasn’t really living the middle class life now was she, struggling to feed her children, she is an example of a single mother doing the right things with no support. The support also needs to feature, where community leaders acknowledge the struggles of many women and women who were not strong enough to leave such a bad husband, more all round to strengthen women’s roles and momentum to keep them growing.
    Namaste

    • March 6, 2013 6:45 pm

      I Think that to do away with the whole dowry garbage would solve a lot of current problems.. i realise this is deeply entrenched into the fabric of India’s cultural practices but perhaps some incentives to replace such a practice would remove the senseless motivation to rid the unwanted females because it is the dowry that is the driving issue not really the gender.. if the dowry were for boys i’m sure the figures would sway the other way moreso.. then i think also as has been suggested elsewhere that education about gender equality or raising the awareness that every life is of equal worth regardless of gender or social/educational status etc.
      We are focused here on the people who do kill for dowry’s sake but there must be many others who marry for love and remain married for all the right reasons and love their children regardless of gender.
      This type of thing takes place in other nations eg. China which is also heavily populated and i’m certain even there, there would be those who keep their children regardless of gender, though they have other issues eg. their one child policy, but at least they don’t seem to murder the mothers or grown female children as we are seeing here in India. Thank God and mothers such as Neera, for standing up for her children and making the sacrifices that she did i too believe God has honoured her for the stand she took for her daughters’ rights to live… God bless her and He has and is.. and her daughter/s also.

  11. February 8, 2013 12:29 am

    This crusade by Ms Rita Banerjee deserves support and applause from everywhere. It is a virtue that wherever women are respected all around betterment is followed. Things are changing in India as well, today in Delhi most judges in District Courts are young women doing excellent job, most ACPs, DCPs (Commissioner of Police) are also young women who are abide/d and respected by their male subordinates, and doing extra ordinary jobs.
    I am hopeful things will improve in future and wish my sincere appreciations for the efforts of Ms Banerjee and the likes.

  12. February 8, 2013 1:15 am

    A difficult question. Pooja should do what Pooja wants to do, and what she believes in, and so should her mother. India needs an overhaul, most especially in the education of boys, and even with that, it will still take a generation for the results to begin to show.

  13. MARCHOIS permalink
    February 8, 2013 1:51 am

    Good luck. It’s a hard battle.

  14. February 8, 2013 2:13 am

    It may be beside the point whether she should or should not be a role model. It would seem she is already a role model. The question should be how or what should she communicate in her role as Miss India? Certainly, no parent has the right to kill their child, but, since the view of children as economic investments is still very much in force, she would be the one to communicate that it is horrendously wrong.

  15. February 8, 2013 2:18 am

    What an encouraging story. Thank you for for sharing it with the world. I will be sharing the story.

  16. Kathi Dunphy permalink
    February 8, 2013 2:29 am

    Do these ignorant men not know that it is their sperm which determines the gender of the child??
    Your poll questions do not make sense. The answer to both statements is yes.

  17. February 8, 2013 4:14 am

    All children are to be valued and respected as human beings, not just the economically successful ones. Obviously, there are very deeply ingrained attitudes here which authorities/ governments need to address.

  18. Ros Dale permalink
    February 8, 2013 4:37 am

    I was very moved by Pooja’s story-it is one all women in the Western world should read and then strive to help our sisters in need, whatever country they live in. If this had happened in Australia, Pooja’s father would have ended up in a gaol for abusing his wife. I cannot understand how a country can allow the murder of children and then claim to be ‘civilised’. All life is sacred. India’s politicians know no shame.

    • March 6, 2013 6:55 pm

      Totally agree with you Ros. All life is sacred and i pray this young woman’s opportunity to introduce change will not be thwarted but welcomed and embraced.. it will take at least a generation to see the true turnaround.. but like the couple of college students mentioned in the slide show where the young woman was sadly murdered for marrying someone outside of her caste, it would seem that the young ones in India want change.. may that poor bereaved young man (and others like him/them) be another instrument in the battle for such change, may the loss of his beloved young bride not be in vain.

  19. Andrew Brown permalink
    February 8, 2013 4:39 am

    I am lucky enough to be blessed with a daughter (my heir, as first born) and a son. I cannot even contemplate a life if either were taken. I am also “lucky” to have been born into the so called “first world” where everyone, regardless of race, colour, creed or gender has the oppurtunity to to suceed. We, all, MUST endeavour that ALL humans WILL be given the very same choices that I, my daughter and my son take for granted. Hence, my vote that Poona is a role model AND no she is not. Do I make sense? I have THE choice to do as I wish WITHIN reason, as ALL humans MUST have.

  20. February 8, 2013 4:58 am

    wow! so beautiful-mother AND her daughters! wow! I am so proud of them! I wish I could meet them all!

  21. mark hughes permalink
    February 8, 2013 5:02 am

    HER FATHER SHOULD HANG HIS HEAD IN SHAME , I HAVE TWO BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS& I WOULDNT SWAP THEM FOR A HUNDRED SONS , HE IS NOT FIT TO BE A FATHER & IS CERTAINLY NOT A DAD

  22. andrew michael sevilla permalink
    February 8, 2013 5:22 am

    I do not understand why child-murder is tolerated by the Indian culture. Why do their fathers even desire this?

  23. Albert permalink
    February 8, 2013 6:19 am

    Pooja’s mother the strongest women what difficulties she much have gone may god give her all the happiness in her life.

  24. Brenda Raus permalink
    February 8, 2013 6:35 am

    When they are out of people, then maybe the dumb men will figure out that they NEED women!

    • Deborah permalink
      February 11, 2013 11:06 am

      too true but until then the rapes will just multiply

    • April 4, 2013 2:35 am

      Men are dumb! Just think in China where ‘one child’ only: they have the amniosentesis and if the embryo is a girl they abort, and hope the next pregnancy will be a boy. They are now a nation of masterbation, no girls . . . imagine how the parents of the girl could demand a dowry?? It happened with the Eskimos over 200 years ago, infanticide of girl babies, and they only wanted boys who could help daddy catch the big fish! Soon there were no girls for the boys to marry, fights ensued, murders, and so we should learn from history, now China is looking for girls for their boys . . from where will they get them? Interesting isn’t it? And how will they treat them? as they have not grown up with girls around them!

  25. Joan Apthorp permalink
    February 8, 2013 6:39 am

    If only men would realise that the sex (or “gender” if you must use that term) is determined by the father…

    • February 8, 2013 9:33 pm

      I completely agree with this comment for reasons that, medically it is the male chromosome that determines the sex of the new born. I think ‘Causes’ should take initiative and make very strong efforts to spread this awareness, for this will cure the evil from the bud. This fact an ordinary person doesn’t know and therefore this campaign should begin from this ….

  26. February 8, 2013 6:40 am

    A tip to the new couples, never ignore the first child to bring into the world, irrespective of the gender, female is the golden egg of Easter, male is the snake hat needs the egg to grow. Ignoring a female is throwing your food into the mud.

  27. Murray Culshaw permalink
    February 8, 2013 6:47 am

    A moving and inspirational story.

  28. February 8, 2013 6:59 am

    The men that migrated to the sugar plantations after slavery was abolished did not take this nor any of the current life styles that still exist in India with them. They did not even attempt to try any of it.Corruptions and dishonesty.

  29. Melanie Vliet permalink
    February 8, 2013 7:23 am

    Which is winning–yes or no? I voted “No” because a woman needs to find her worth within and not in her physical appearance. The article mentions Pooja’s academic prowess, and yet she has resorted to treating herself as a piece of meat. She has succumbed to the very lie that almost cost her her life as an infant.

  30. February 8, 2013 11:08 am

    only inhumans can harm a girl child as they do not understand that they are throttling the source of human race by killing a girl child . These people are anti human and should be punished severely.

  31. S.J.Akhtar permalink
    February 8, 2013 11:20 am

    LOVE DAUGHTERS BECAUSE THEY LOVE PARENTS VERY MUCH.

  32. Kishore K. Shah permalink
    February 8, 2013 11:21 am

    Every Living Being has got right to Live. No discrimination. What we cant give, we do not have the right to take it. Any kind of Genocide should be opposed and condemned.

    • saoirse permalink
      February 8, 2013 6:58 pm

      I agree!

  33. farah khan permalink
    February 8, 2013 11:35 am

    its such a nice true story

  34. Ankur permalink
    February 8, 2013 11:40 am

    I believe we must understand the root cause to this. The reason why people don’t want girl child is that they are afraid of the DOWRY that they have to give during the marriage of the girl . If we can end or have a check on this dowry system than probably this female infanticide can be reduced or probably stopped.

  35. Naela permalink
    February 8, 2013 11:41 am

    Apart from killing babies, dowry system should be eliminated this is also important, at the same time women need to be educated about their rights the government should give them protection.

  36. Ashish Rai permalink
    February 8, 2013 11:44 am

    I voted ‘no’, because there are a series of issues concerning subjugation of women of which female foeticide is just one. The patriarchs of our society find it convenient to become the self-appointed arbiters of societal norms. Archaic custom abused by exploitative men, that has left the door open for attendant social evils of female foeticide. Our indoctrination that in an adulterous relationship between man and a woman, as was the case with Pooja’s father, the latter’s culpability is a foregone conclusion by the society’s patriarchs, and not enough societal mechanisms to protect the woman’s vulnerability, whether it is the urban milieu of Delhi or the mofussil town in India. In the case of latter, we may witness the realisation of the evil may dawn soon but in large cities such as Delhi, such a catharsis can happen only with spread of education among women, and some natural calamity that unravels with this distortion due to man’s transgressions.

  37. February 8, 2013 12:52 pm

    Touching story. I am sure it will inspire other women who are in the same situation. But with the Indian society still living in medieval times, we require tough laws to tame inhuman animals like her father and her in-laws. Stories like that of Pooja are exception. Most do not live to see the day and most women just cannot go on fighting the way and succeed the way Neera did.

    • February 10, 2013 12:16 pm

      Absolutely. Most women in fact don’t have the courage and means to fight to survive like Neera did so they give in to the demands to kill the child. But this is a human right issue, not a choice for any parent.

    • April 4, 2013 2:53 am

      mbhangui – you are right. Even in the Western world it is difficult to raise a child alone, (trying to fit baby-sitters with work hours, juggling making a strain for both) and Neera did it with two children in a society that is hostile to such circumstances. Laws must be changed so that husbands do not just leave the wife to fend for herself and his offspring.
      He behaved as if he had nothing to do with them! It is the same in Muslim countries, even those countries near to Europe. When a wife is missing, the husband is usually the reason,
      she is found in the lake, fully clothed, or has fallen off the roof, dead, and now he is free.
      What was she doing in the lake? oh! she was just out swimming, What was she doing on the roof? she went there for the view! And he usually has an airtight alibi. or if not the husband – then “Honour Killings”, which have been happening in England since the 1950′s, and recently in Finland . . . and not understood. Not understood because the mentality is so o o o unbelievable, not human!

  38. k n rao permalink
    February 8, 2013 1:12 pm

    we do not have any right to kill our daughters or sons ! The question we have to ask ourselves where we would be had our parents did the same to us !

  39. yadnya desai permalink
    February 8, 2013 1:25 pm

    Why Female Infanticide???? Is every man’s mother not somebody’s daughter????? So have you men ever thought….that is this girl was killed…. you would not have seen today’s world….
    A son is a son till he gets a wife….
    A daughter is a daughter all her life….

    Even today in India…. a girl child is considered to be goddess Laxmi…. then why is female infanticide still carried on?????

    The Indians need to be educated on the gender determination of the child… that it is the father’s DNA that determines the gender of the newborn and not the wish or the DNA of the mother……

  40. Furio Carmignani permalink
    February 8, 2013 1:40 pm

    Both the statements of the poll are true at the same time, and both shuld be followed

  41. Karen.ahotmail@gmail.com permalink
    February 8, 2013 2:02 pm

    I think this is actually murder. If an Indian doesn’t want a girl, then the man should not even get the woman pregnant. They should start at the right point instead of avoiding the murder factor almost completely. What this issue is showing the rest of the world is the fact that Indians are turning into killers and lying about it. To claim it is sime kind of cultural edict that allows for these killings is absurd. Karen M. Krueger

  42. February 8, 2013 2:04 pm

    I’ve voted yes, but actually I think her mother should be the advertised role model. I think her story not just the photos should be given huge media coverage, a movie made, like “Desert flower” the story of Waris who was later murdered for her efforts. The war on women is world wide and still largely ignored. The need to dominate and control women is vital to a handful of people. It must be exposed, and stopped, now.

  43. February 8, 2013 2:10 pm

    Male kind only are RESPONSIBLE for the genders THEY produce. So, if not satisfied, before reaching out to the “innocent” baby girl who never had the choice wether to born and come into this material world, : there are ropes enough to …. themselves, to punish themselves for their act.What for religions when murder is a natural acceptation : one shan’t kill is one of the commendements. So if the male thinks he is the one to decide about life or dead HE commits an unforgivable act against cosmic law. See and read on Youtube and Google: Familyconstellations and get more informed about Akasha – the knowing field, quantum fysics, -chemy, -mechanisme and about sjamanisme and the role of our soul and ancesters.

  44. Anna Be permalink
    February 8, 2013 2:18 pm

    I think your choices are too simplistic – why can’t she be used as example as a successful woman, who would have been killed given the choice of her father. She can speak to people who need an example to look towards.

    The message that all babies are special regardless of gender or how successful they become can still be made or any other factor.

    If Pooja could be a spokeswoman against this horrible practice of infanticide, then why stop her.

    • February 10, 2013 12:15 pm

      No our question is: Is Pooja’s success a good reason to use her as reason to convince people to not kill their infant girls. Remember Pooja is from an upper middle class, educated family. Her mother struggled to raise her, after her father kicked them out. But had Pooja grown up to be an ordinary, middle class girl, in a regular job, not someone rich and famous, would we say, “O.K.then her father was justified in having her killed?”

  45. Ad Black permalink
    February 8, 2013 2:50 pm

    If a child is born to a family, they are the only responsible, nobody else. Boy or girl, blind or deaf, crippled or otherwise handicapped, it is their responsibility to care for the child! no other question arises!

  46. February 8, 2013 3:05 pm

    The year in the date of birth to be filled is only from 1951 whereas I am older–1945.could be my vote will not reach you.

  47. February 8, 2013 3:07 pm

    A moving and inspirational story, for to read it through and understand, all issues which are relevant in life.

  48. Nanu.T permalink
    February 8, 2013 3:23 pm

    Really Ms. Neera has done something wonderful than Pooja.

  49. Konika permalink
    February 8, 2013 4:06 pm

    Successful girls can be role model, but not necessary miss Universe. Though I am proud of Pooja’s achievements and courage that her mother showed, most Indian parents doesn’t consider modeling and show biz as a respectful path for girls. On other hand women like Kiran bedi, Sunita williams, Kiran Majumdar shaw could be better role models. Also if the to be mothers are not educated, independent and courageous there is no way a role model could help. Education of women is the key to solve our country’s problems.

    • February 10, 2013 12:09 pm

      Konica, all the sons parents are desperate for don’t turn out successful. Parents want dumb, daft, useless, crafty, criminal sons too! Doesn’t matter as long as he has an XY. Plus, the more educated the daughter is, the bigger the dowry they have to pay? Why should that be so? What is the issue with a daughter getting educated, and living an ordinary life. Not glamorous, not famous. Just ordinary. And not marrying for dowry either. What is wrong with that. Could the issue then be that the parents have to give her a part of their property, and the son will not inherit it all? When we think this through — what conclusion can we make about why parents take away a girls inherent human right to live?

  50. pilar mouriz permalink
    February 8, 2013 6:10 pm

    All problems would end by bringing out a law that would end with dowry
    If no dowry no need to force abortions if the expected baby is female
    If no dowry no need to force mothers to kill their childs or leave the family
    If no dowry no more women getting burned alive or killed if no more money is given in by her family
    If no dowry having daughters wil not be an economical stress
    If no dowry a woman would be able to divorce with no member of her husband family killing her to avoid returning her money back
    All will end and woman and man will be the same
    Tha cause of all that we are trying to end…of all the shameful acts we read everyday…the hell woman go through in India(and other countries)… is DOWRY

  51. mallapragada rama rao permalink
    February 8, 2013 6:28 pm

    it is the mindset of the moneyed class. i find in my life that the poor have more empathy than the rich. that also accounts for gender ratio being normal in the case of the poorest.

    • February 10, 2013 12:06 pm

      You are right. The poorest 20% is the only class in India that has a normal gender ratio. Yet, we ask why do campaigns keep saying, give money so we can educated and improve the economics of the poor so they don’t kill their daughters? Is it because that makes it a convenient way to get people to donate, even though it is a lie?

  52. saoirse permalink
    February 8, 2013 6:56 pm

    I don’t think that the pole is a very good one. I think that she should be a role model but the incentive isn’t right. she should be a role model because her story says that any one can make it and having a boy doesn’t necessarily mean that they are more likely to be rich than a girl. I also think that this is an amazing story.

  53. Crimsona A.Kaiser permalink
    February 8, 2013 7:40 pm

    Phenomenal story that put me in tears.

  54. Ann Brigden permalink
    February 8, 2013 7:46 pm

    An inspiring story, and I am glad to share it. But the questions are based on the wrong assumptions. Parents have no right to kill a baby child, boy or girl – irrespective of their possible future success or economic value. They ALL have the right to life to become independent adults. It seems MANY INDIAN middle-class men ARE STUCK IN THE 18TH CENTURY in their attitudes to wives, marriage and daughters.

    • February 10, 2013 12:02 pm

      Yes, Ann that is the biggest challenge for our campaign. Unfortunately, almost all other ‘save the girl’ campaigns in India whether by Indian ngos or by International organizations, focus on telling people that a daughter can a good pay-back if educated and allowed to work. And the challenge for our campaign is to put across the fact that if a parent has enough money to raise a son, they have the means to raise a daughter. Just because they want a son to carry the name of the family or inherit family property, they do not have the right to kill a daughter. The right to live is a human right which a parent does not have the right to take away once they’ve given birth. This is not a choice. But in the face of the other campaigns, emphasizing women as monetary incentive, it’s uphill challenge for us!!

  55. Elizabeth Syms Groschkus permalink
    February 8, 2013 9:53 pm

    A son,will always remain a son,till he gets himself a wife. But a daughter,will always be there,even in the darkest hour to take care of you!!!

  56. Elizabeth Syms Groschkus permalink
    February 8, 2013 9:57 pm

    A son,will always remain a son,till he gets himself a wife. but a daughter,will always be there,even in the darkest hour to take care of you!!

  57. Padam subba permalink
    February 8, 2013 11:38 pm

    Really very proud for parents.its nice,

  58. sandip roy permalink
    February 9, 2013 12:14 am

    I just salute to Puja’s mother neerja

  59. Edgar Nissen permalink
    February 9, 2013 12:14 am

    India is so contradictive! There is a legacy of thousands of years of culture and wisdom. And there is such an awful brutality towards the weaker, women, children, the poor! Men of India, you must denounce the traditional role, and cease these atrocities, if you want to be regarded as civilized, and not as criminals!

  60. Valerie Stacy permalink
    February 9, 2013 12:33 am

    Who cares? The important thing is to get the message out. If using a successful Indian woman to do that, I think people are smart enough to look beyond the fact that she is famous and not stupid enough to infer that if the female infant were not expected to be successful, she should be killed. There is no way to know what a baby will grow up to do. Obviously no child should be killed. I am glad that this woman has become a role model for the cause. It might make the more cynical Indian families change their ideas.

  61. February 9, 2013 5:30 am

    WOMEN ARE THE MOST VALUABLE ASSETS IN SOCIETY. EDUCATE A WOMAN YOU EDUCATE A WHOLE FAMILY. THEY ARE USUALLY SELFLESS AND WILL DO ANYTHING TO ENSURE THE FAMILY IS FED AND SAFE. WHEREAS A MAN USUALLY WILL JUST TAKE CARE OF HIMSELF BUT THAT IS NOT TO SAY ALL THE MEN ARE THE SAME. WOMEN ARE CONNECTED TO THEIR HEARTS WHEREAS MEN ARE IN EGO. WOMEN WILL BITCH YES BUT MEN WILL CREATE WARS WOMEN WANT PEACE.
    EDUCATION IN INDIA SCHOOLS IS DESPERATELY NEEDED TO CHANGE THE WRONGS AGAINST WOMEN AND FEMALE BABIES. A LONG TIME AGO WOMEN IN INDIA WERE THROWN INTO FIRES AFTER THEIR HUSBANDS DIED.
    LAWS ARE MADE BY MEN AGAINST WOMEN BECAUSE THEY ARE FULL OF EGO AND FAIL TO CONNECT WITH THEIR HEARTS OF COURSE THEIR HEARTS ARE IN THEIR PENIS.

  62. February 9, 2013 6:31 am

    There is room for many role models, Pooga, Shubhra and their mother are all role models, as well as those not so beautiful, talented, or educated girls who live lives of service to their families and communities by doing their regular everyday work and caring, just as their “sisters” in other parts of the world do.

  63. jenny permalink
    February 9, 2013 3:31 pm

    women are the nurturers of a society we cant live without them society wont exist

  64. February 10, 2013 5:38 am

    Both Mother and Daughter should be icons, mother went against society and lived a harsh life to raise a successful daughter and the daughter working hard to become successful.Education and making the whole concept of “taking and giving dowries” as well as “honor killings ” and other crappy third world unequal behavior made illegal will have a massive impact. It will also help if the law enforcement and politicians werent so blind and corrupt.

  65. Marie permalink
    February 10, 2013 9:55 am

    India needs to modernise and not live in the dark ages. A lot of women are smarter than men but are repressed by an archaic society. Men need to remember they are responsible for the sex of a child after all they do the deed whereas women don’t really need a man there is such a thing as in- vitro fertilisation. Men who carry on with such barbaric practices should remember that and for any such crime they should do time.

  66. February 10, 2013 12:18 pm

    No words to express the brave mother.

  67. L. Brooke permalink
    February 11, 2013 2:37 am

    i am not native to india and therefore do not know which strategy would be most effective in ending such violence there. blessings and honor to the mother and her 2 daughters!

  68. Shujaat Ahmed Siddiqui.. permalink
    February 11, 2013 9:25 am

    Stop violance against child (Girls). ….

  69. February 11, 2013 11:10 am

    I couldn’t answer the poll because like so many others the questions are too closed
    Their should be no killing of children, period! and while Pooja would make a great voice i don’t want to see children being an economic investment as the reason for not killing their beautiful daughters

  70. Shambhu Sah permalink
    February 11, 2013 8:57 pm

    The root cause of all this tragedy in India is the dowry system,which inspite of all the efforts being made to abolish it is still rampant. The moment a girl is born the family, specially the father starts worrying about the dowry expenses which he would have to incur to marry her off.Then there is the thought of the lineage of the family being carried forward which is only possible by the birth of a son who carries the name of the family forward. To overcome this myth the complete change of mindset is required and the girl should be trusted to preserve the reputation and traditions of the family. It has been been observed that daughters have proved to be more loving and loyal to the family than their brothers.

  71. Lorraine Redfern permalink
    February 13, 2013 12:16 pm

    The problem with India was having to many children and i am not just talking about the girls because the idea of having at least two boys before a girl came along should never have happened. By putting the boys first was what created the terrible incidents that has left the Indian women feeling in some way afraid. I know that all Indian men are not bad but I also know that there is to many to count and with that in mind, who couldn’t care about women only themselves because of their upringing and lack of concern, not just for women but the people around. Raping is a real concern and I believe that 25,000 women in most years disappear and are never seen again. It’s time to put these men back in their boxes and get down of their high horses.

    • February 13, 2013 8:30 pm

      @Lorraine — There is birth control. You don’t have to kill infants or abort for birth control. The issue with having sons, has to do more with the patriarchal need to only allow men to retain control on property and resources. It is the only reason why parents pay dowry. The dowry is a fraction of having to actually give your daughter her rightful parental inheritance.

  72. Amelia permalink
    February 16, 2013 3:34 am

    I have simply copied another’s answer as i agree 100% with it, so here it is pasted;
    I wanted to answer your poll question, but I don’t agree with either of the answers. I do think that she is a wonderful role model — and her mother, even more so — but I would not agree with it for the reason you state. So, yes, but not just because she is an “economic incentive.” The article clearly states that wealth has little to do with this issue.

  73. February 25, 2013 5:00 pm

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  74. dee permalink
    March 7, 2013 7:55 pm

    just a really pathetic country with pathetic men.

    • Royal permalink
      June 10, 2013 12:39 pm

      Pathetic word is neither nation biased nor gender biased.

  75. Annette Waddell permalink
    April 3, 2013 7:24 pm

    This is a lovely story. I love happy endings. I believe that “thou shalt not kill.”. It’s as simple as that

  76. Denise Roskopf permalink
    April 4, 2013 4:16 am

    I just can’t understand how in this day and age, that people can be so backward as to believe that girls/women are less than a man. Just because they don’t have that one piece of equipment so to speak, they are less. No woman should feel less than any man..We are the ones who can bring new life into the world, not the men. Do they believe they just sprung into the world by chance? No, they were fed, changed, and cuddled by the very sex they choose to decimate. Neera is incredibly brave and she and her daughter Pooja are all that any person could strive to be. How can this country allow this genocide?? Personally, I think if it was possible, all the women and girls should leave this country, move somewhere else and let the men fend for themselves. Women are not slaves, stupid or worthless….I would never, never, never visit India for this reason. Absolutely sickening

  77. Diane Singh permalink
    April 4, 2013 4:42 am

    Yes,
    it is very important that all women, including Pooja and others like her, be given the opportunity to survive and reach their full potential. Pooja is proof of this. What sort of a human being takes the life of his own daughter with the help of his own family, including his own mother? Is there no shame in taking your own child’s life, or is murder the accepted thing in India. what education does the Government give those poor families who believe that they are doing what is right. The government also has blood on their hands.

  78. karyn dickinson permalink
    April 8, 2013 1:23 pm

    I have read all of your points and find them all very interesting. I travelled round India in my 20′s, and what an a vast country. I think for any changes to take place we need a huge amount of women to stand up..i don’t think anything is gonna change until they do..now with all the social media they must make a global statement as a nation of women demanding change. There needs to be legislation in place and the appropriate bodies to carry out that legislation.
    A woman needs to be educated in issues of her rights to contraception, considering they obviously have no problem with abortion then they should have no problem with a woman taking a contraceptive.
    India needs to wake up, and the women need to stand together in unity and have zero tolerance, of course it will be a huge battle but unless they do nothing will change.
    Maybe the women of the higher class the ones who are well read and educated should make it their task to get the ball rolling…get out there on the streets…DEMAND IT!!!
    Good luck women of India..ya gonna need it!!

    • April 9, 2013 6:57 pm

      Exactly. Women of India will have to speak up. That is what we are pushing for in this campaign. You will amazed at how high the fear factor is even in writing a blog or translating. Most of the women who volunteer for us, whether from India or from outside, want to do so anonymously. They want their names and faces to remain unrevealed!

    • Nancy permalink
      April 10, 2013 2:11 am

      I have a few questions. If you are pushing for women in India to speak up, why would you want to limit who gets to be a spokesperson for this cause? Are you against any famous or well known women speaking out? I see it as a way to get people to become aware of an issue, but do not think female children have to be of some value to their parents (now or in the future) in order to live. I want anyone and everyone to stand up for girls and women.

    • April 10, 2013 8:02 pm

      No, no — this is not about a spokesperson. The question we are asking here is: do you think using a wealthy, famous woman will get people to stop killing their female infants. Along with that in the post we’ve provided the information that the poorest 20 are the only ones not eliminating daughters. As Indians get more money and education, they eliminate more daughters. The richest 20% — this strata goes for weekend shopping to Thailand, and Singapore, and owns real-estate that parallels that of say New York city, are the ones that have eliminated the most number of daughters. Basically our question is — can you convince the wealthy and educated that their daughter will be wealthy and famous and get them to stop exterminating their daughters? Do you think this should be approached as choice or incentive given to parents?

  79. Heather Spiller permalink
    April 12, 2013 7:09 pm

    No child should be killed because they are female. The cultural dislike towards girls needs to change.

  80. Wendy permalink
    April 13, 2013 1:17 pm

    I think that India needs a whole new make over and fast .A just and proper legal system,Police that dont have criminal records and All new politicians.And a Big Jail for all the animals that call them selves Husbands and Fathers and Men .No time for anything else .Get someone from the UN to help .This is not acustom when it is one sided it is Rape Murder and all the rest .

  81. Padmanabhan Jaikumar permalink
    June 12, 2013 7:36 pm

    It is necessary that all educated women and men come forward and fight to remove the imbalance and press every parents to educate their girl child

  82. Sandra Ethell permalink
    June 27, 2013 10:33 am

    Everyone conceived has the right to a nurtured life. This terrible and tragic situation in India where so many females are treated like refuse requires women and men with an awareness of civil and humans rights worldwide to unite and take steps to unrelentingly motivate the powerful of India to give these rights to every person on the subcontinent.
    “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly” said Martin Luther King in 1963.
    In solidarity, with intelligence and prayerfulness I wish for healing and renewal for India that this insane war on females ends.
    Thank you activists for highlighting the issue and doing something about it.

  83. sahitha permalink
    December 10, 2013 4:56 pm

    It also comes down to how boys are raised in Indian society just because they are male. They grow up selfish with a sense of self-entitlement and “take” more than they give. Even if they grow into not so violent men who assault other women or beat their wives, they still become somewhat deficient in the humane qualities like compassion, love, service etc. They tend to be pre-occupied with what they want and can get in life/from others, without much consideration to people around them. I don’t see them making very good life partners simply because they have their heads stuck far up their posteriors. I can only imagine the plight of women getting married to such heartless men.

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